Key Players

Google Driverless Car Project, United States

Headed by Chris Urmson this project now operates more than 20 autonomous vehicles which accumulate about 10.000km of urban autonomous driving per week in Mountain View (as of 5/2015). The project began in 2009 under the direction of Darpa Grand Challengen winner Sebastian Thrun. Another key member of the project is Anthony Levandowski, who has built a self-driving motorcycle.

GM-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab

Headed by Raj Rajkumar who won the 2007 Urban Driving Grand Challenge with the ‘Boss’ autonomous car based on a modified Chevy Tahoe. The collaborative research lab was established in 2008. Announced

Uber Advanced Technologies Center

Located in Pittsburgh, near the Carnegie Mellon University Campus, this center focuses on research in the areas of autonomous vehicles, vehicle safety technologies and mapping. This includes a collaboration with CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC).


Located in Santa Clara. Provides parallel processing, automotive grade high-performance hard- and software for autonomous driving. Its software platform provides base algorithms for autonomous driving out of the box. Has recently run a limited trial of using deep learning for lateral control of a self-driving car. The company may emerge as a key technology provider for the commercialization phase of self-driving cars.


Started by MIT researchers Karl Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli, this company has launched trials of self-driving cars in Singapore and plans to have its self-driving taxis deployed in 10 cities around the world by 2020.

University of Berlin, Germany

The Autonomos car team is headed by Raúl Rojas. The team has sent a prototype to the 2007 Urban Grand Challenge (where it reached the semi-finals) and currently tests the ‘MadeInGermany‘ driverless vehicle public on roads in Germany (it has obtained an official test license). The team has developed an autonomous car taxi service and also has demonstrated an early brain-computer interface for steering a car.

Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany

Participated in Darpa Urban Challenge. Under the direction of Markus Maurer, has successfully operated an autonomous Volkswagen Passat in the city of Braunschweig in 2010 (Project: Stadpilot).

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

Particpated in Urban Challenge 2005 and 2007. Headed by Christoph Stiller. Cooperated with Daimler in 2013 to have a Mercedes drive autonomously more than 100km through Southern Germany using only close-to-market sensors (no LIDAR). Also involved in localization for autonomous railways. A spinoff (Atlatec) focuses on vision-based 3D mapping and map-based localization.

Universität der Bundeswehr, Munich, Germany

Develops MuCAR-3, a modified Volkswagen Tourag. Headed by Hans-Joachim Wünsche. Repeated participation in the European Land Robot Trials (see an example video).  Focus on expectation-based perception (4D, Saccadic vision) and off-road navigation and driving. A recent video (in German)

VisLab, University of Parma, Italy

VisLab is a spin-off of the University of Parma headed by Alberto Broggi and has been involved in automated vehicles research for more than 15 years. Instead of using LIDAR sensors, his approach is based on computer vision. In July 2013 his BRAiVE prototype successfully navigated rural, urban and freeway traffic in Parma, Italy. In 2010 his team completed a 13000 km journey with two autonomous vehicles from Italy to China. Supplied vision technology to Oshkosh automated vehicle that particpated in the Grand Challenge.

Oxford Mobile Robotics Group, UK

Headed by Pau Newmann, the group develops the Wildcat autonomous vehicle. Key research areas are large scale navigation and scene understanding,  going far beyond traditional algorithms for simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). The group is also involved in the europa project to build an autonomous robotic pedestrian assistant.

INRIA IMARA, Paris, France

French research group. Key projects: Cybercar and cybercars2. Currently involved in LaRA project, which looks at intelligent transport systems.

Easymile, France
Joint venture between a Ligier Group, a vehicle manufacturer, and Robosoft, a robotics software company. Their main product is a driverless shuttle, the EZ-10, which is tested in several European cities as part of the Citymobil2 project.

NavyaTechnology, France
Autonomous solution provider (Formerly: Induct). Offers a driverless shuttle called ‘Navya’ Currently trialed in Greenwich, UK.

Griffth University, Intelligent Control Systems Lab, Australia
This lab is headed by Ljubo Vlacic. Research in cooperative driverless vehicles and an autonomous research platform.

Singapore-MIT-Alliance for Research and Technology, Singapore
Aims to develop new paradigms for urban mobility. The future urban mobility group experiments with autonomous golf carts to improve last mile transportation and builds simulation models for predicting mobility demands in transportation networks. A BBC report.

HiTech Robotic Systemz, India
The company has presented a driverless shuttle, the Novus Drive. It is targeted at university campuses and similar locations.

Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), Korea
The institute works on various aspects of robot/cognitive convergence, including navigation, 3D depth sensing and is working on an autonomous vehicle shuttle for outdoor environments (ESTRO).

RobotTaxi, Japan
A joint venture of ZMP and DeNA which aims to develop an autonomous taxi service. RobotTaxi wants to have the first autonomous taxis available for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Autonomous car research in China
It is difficult to get detailed information about the autonomous car prototypes on China. But China Daily has reported highway trials auf driverless car prototypes involving the Military Transportation University (Tianjin) (120 km highway drive in 2012) and the National University of Defence (Bejing) (286 km highway drive in 2011). An article claims that the National University of Defence plans to cooperate with China’s First Auto Works to bring the technology into commercial vehicles. The National Natural Science Foundation of China plans a longer 2400km drive from Beijing to Shenzhen in 2015.

Yutong Bus Company, China
Develops a self-driving city bus. In September 2015 their prototype autonomous bus completed a 32km trip in regular traffic on an intercity road, including lane changes, over- taking etc.

Autonomous  Solutions, Inc (ASI), USA
Offers a vehicle automation kit which can be used to convert traditional vehicles for autonomous operation. ASI has equipped many types of vehicles including mining trucks for autonomous operation. A video shows some of their autonomous vehicles.


Please send us an email if you know of other teams and projects working on driverless cars







2 thoughts on “Key Players

  1. Why still think in terms of modifying extniisg cars? I’m all in favor of avoiding accidents, but I also want the next leap in personal transportation to be faster. And addresses that can be dictated/programmed. Cars that can park themselves. Do they need back seats? Windows? Tires? Really rethinking transportation might eliminate the need for highways, parking lots, garages, the DMV and some responsible adult to take the kids to school or great grandma to her doctor appointment. Don’t make newer cars moderately better than extniisg ones. Really remake transportation.

    • Rolf The “future” is here now in my 2010 Prius V. The LKA (Lane Keep Assist) will pull the car back into a lane, after beeping wlldiy, should the car drift out of the lane you are in. The dynamic cruise control uses Radar to keep you from getting too close to the car in front, and will modify your speed to keep up with traffic. The car also parks itself. It has a Pre-Collision System that will tighten up the seatbelts if you are approaching an object in front too quickly, and will slam on the brakes if it thinks a collion is unavoidable. Should a an airbag deploy, it will call for help with Safety Connect, a system similar to OnStar. This is all part of the Advanced Technology Package. December 22 2010 at 10:12 AM rate up rate down

Leave a Reply